Derailment sounded 'like a tornado coming through' PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK, Sentinel Staff Writer   
Tuesday, 18 February 2014 11:01
Derailed cars sit near Washington Township fire station, Monday, Feb. 17, in Tontogany. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
TONTOGANY – To Kevin Wichman, “it sounded like a tornado coming through.”
The village resident, who lives just across the railroad tracks from the downtown area, near Main Street, was watching the Winter Olympics with his fiance when he heard the train.
The derailment incident occurred at Main Street around 9:40 p.m. Monday night, damaging two village buildings and shearing off trees. The crossing at Main Street remained closed this morning as CSX workers and others labored to get the remaining cars out of the area. PHOTO BLOG
Carla Groleau, CSX spokesperson, provided updated figures regarding the incident late this morning, stating that 19 cars of the 62-car CSX locomotive were derailed. She indicated crews were working to re-rail any cars that they can, and to move them out of the way in order to make repairs to the track, which was damaged.
No injuries were reported, according to information from Bill Gase, Washington Township fire chief.
Groleau said that 18 of the derailed cars were empty, while one contained scrap steel. The train was coming from Indiana, she said.
"We appreciated the quick response of local fire and police to assist us in this incident," she said, offering apologies for any inconveniences the matter caused.
The township maintenance department and the fire department buildings, which sit adjacent to the tracks, both sustained minor damage from the derailed cars.
Wichman said this morning that it sounded to him as though the train was traveling faster than usual. Groleau said that issue will be part of the investigation into the incident, and also said the train cars themselves will be investigated, a process that can take a few weeks.
Bernie Scott, a member of the township fire department, said he was getting ready for bed when his pager went off, alerting him to the incident. He came to the scene to find multiple fire departments on-scene.
“It was snowing, a lot of activity,” he said. Scott indicated the area just on the downtown side of the tracks was filled with responding trucks. Weston and Middleton Township Fire Departments responded to the scene as mutual aid.
The wall of a restroom in the fire hall had cracked as the result of the impact, and in a corner the masonry was knocked away, exposing the interior. Two trees nearby were sheared off. This morning, wheels from some of the cars could be seen sitting in the snow near the building – at least one of them still bearing sod from where it had scraped the ground.
“It was definitely something that you don’t see every day,” said Otsego Superintendent Adam Koch of the scene. The school campus, which was closed today because of snow, is located a few blocks away from the scene. “You’re just very thankful that nobody was hurt and that there was not any hazardous material spilled.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 12:08

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